7 Common Myths about Epilepsy

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By Dr Sadique Pathan, Consultant – Neurologist, Manipal Hospital, Kharadi, Pune

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders that causes repeated seizures in millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy continues to be hampered by misconceptions and beliefs, which can lead to stigma and discrimination against individuals who suffer from it.

  • Myth #1: Epilepsy is transmissible

Fact: Epilepsy is not transmissible. It is a neurological condition caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain injury, infection, and developmental abnormalities. It cannot “catch” epilepsy from someone who has it, nor can you pass it on through casual touch or proximity.

  • Myth #2: If someone is experiencing a seizure, put something in their mouth to keep them from choking

Fact: Never put anything in the mouth of someone suffering a seizure. This might worsen the person’s pain. Instead, gently roll the person to one side, place something soft under his or her head, and stay by their side until they recover consciousness.

  • Myth #3: Only children get epilepsy

Fact: Epilepsy affects nearly as many people over the age of 65 as it does children under the age of ten. Seizures in the elderly tend to be the result of underlying medical conditions such as stroke and heart disease.

  • Myth #4: During a seizure, the sufferer experiences pain

Fact: During a seizure, the person is unconscious and not in pain. Some people may experience muscle aches and fatigue after a prolonged seizure.

  • Myth #5: People with epilepsy become disabled and unable to work

Fact: People with a medical condition have the same abilities and intelligence as everyone else. Some have severe seizures and are unable to work; others are successful and productive in challenging jobs.

  • Myth #6: Epilepsy is always visible

Fact: Not all seizures are instantly recognizable. While some seizures lead to jerks or loss of consciousness, others cause staring spells, confusion, or slight motions. These non-tonic clinic  seizures, also known as absence seizures or focal seizures, are frequently neglected or misdiagnosed. It is important to be informed of the many symptoms of seizures in order to provide appropriate support and interventions.

  • Myth #7: Epilepsy patients should avoid physical exercise and sports

Fact: While certain precautions can be required, such as avoiding activities that provide a high risk of damage during uncontrolled seizures, physical exercise is generally recommended for people with epilepsy. Regular exercise can help improve overall health and well-being, reduce stress, and, in some situations, lessen the frequency of seizures. Individuals with epilepsy should consult with their doctors to develop safe and suitable exercise routines.

Many people still misunderstand epilepsy, but doctors and scientists are learning more about how to better control and stop seizures, allowing people to navigate their medical condition and live fulfilling lives.

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